LONDON: Pep Guardiola remains ever more the centre of curiosity after Manchester City were held 1-1 at home by Southampton. This is only the second time in his managerial career that any of the Catalan’s teams have failed to win in five successive games.
Guardiola’s ability to transfer his trophy-winning theories to English football has been an issue of debate ever since he succeeded Manuel Pellegrini in the summer.
City’s fine start to the season brought 10 successive wins but then came a variety of setbacks against Celtic (3-3), Tottenham (0-2), Everton (1-1), Barcelona (0-4) in midweek and now Saints.
Losing to Barca is no cause for shame but the manner of defeat was something else. Guardiola’s judgment came in for questioning over the dropping of top scorer Sergio Aguero and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo’s reckless red card.
Guardiola insisted that his teams would always “play out from the back” but that strategy came unstuck yet again against Southampton. This time it was England central defender John Stones whose slip handed a first-half goal to Nathan Redmond.
Kelechi Iheanacho equalised in a second half which City dominated and it was enough to keep them top of the Premier League albeit only on goal difference from Arsenal and Liverpol. But their vulnerability to aggressive tactics is becoming more clear with every game.
Guardiola kept City’s players in their dressing room for 45 minutes after the game before emerging to deny that his players were struggling to adapt to his demands.
He said: “It’s not about adapting to a new style. We showed we are able to do that at the start of the season but now we are not to dothat and we have to try to find the reason why.”